Shorthanded Carolina defeats Red Wings 5-3

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Raleigh, N.C. — The Red Wings knew the Carolina Hurricanes would be a challenge Thursday night despite the Hurricanes’ issues with COVID-19.

But this much?

The Hurricanes didn’t have six regulars, but showed plenty of spunk and determination (and organizational depth) defeating the Wings 5-3.

Goalie Alex Nedeljkovic, making an unsuccessful return to Carolina, allowed two goals to Nino Niederreiter, including a shot off a rush just 18 seconds into the third period that broke a 3-3 tie. It was Niederreiter’s eighth goal.

Red Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic reacts following allowing a goal during the first period Thursday night in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Vincent Trocheck finished things with an empty-net goal with 4.8 seconds left for Carolina.

Sam Gagner, Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi had Wings goals. Lucas Raymond had two assists.

"It starts with faceoffs and the first battle, and battling, and they were all over us," Larkin said. "They battled and everything they got, we gave it to them. In the second period, for long stretches of that game, we played good hockey and created and had chances, got to the net, played physical.

"We just gave them what they got, four or five goals, and we couldn't score more than that."

BOX SCORE: Hurricanes 5, Red Wings 3

Despite being short-staffed, Carolina iced a competitive team and received contributions from a lot of different players. Eight of the 10 forwards Carolina dressed got on the scoresheet, and 10 Hurricanes earned points.

"They still have a lot of good players in the lineup," coach Jeff Blashill said. "They're missing good players, we're missing good players (forwards Robby Fabbri and Mike Rasmussen, also to COVID protocol). We talked about the fact there is two points on the line.

"What happens when you're short is a little like youth hockey and you end up playing your best players a lot. In the end, we didn't get two points."

For Blashill, it was also a matter of the Wings not playing well enough defensively.

"We gave up four goals and again, you can't give up four and expect to win on the road," he said. "We have to get that down. They were harder in the first period in front of the net. We didn't give up a whole bunch after that in terms of chances at all. But again, we have to make sure you just can't give up four on the road on a consistent basis and expect to win." 

Nedeljkovic (9-7-3) was looking forward to facing his former team, and talked about the excitement of playing against the squad he carried into the playoffs last season.

Nedeljkovic has started nine of the last 11 games, grabbing control of the Wings’ starter’s job from Thomas Greiss after the two alternated earlier in the season.

But despite a 28-save night, he couldn't outplay Carolina's Frederik Andersen (23 saves).

"Ned played good overall," Blashill said. "The goal off the back wall is a hard one. The first one he's not going to stop, it (the puck) goes right to the guy. The fourth one (Niederreiter's 3-3 tiebreaker) is from the outside, but it's a heck of a shot and every once in a while it goes in.

"I wasn't concerned with Ned's game."

Nedeljkovic and the rest of the Wings couldn’t control a Carolina team that looked determined.

Niederreiter had the two goals (including a power-play tally to open the scoring). Tony DeAngelo, and Jack Drury (playing in his first NHL game) added Hurricanes goals.

The Hurricanes (20-7-1) were missing forwards Jordan Staal, Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho, Seth Jarvis and Steven Lorentz, along with defenseman Ian Cole (Ann Arbor), all on COVID protocol.

Drury, Stefan Noesen and Andrew Poturalski were recalled from the minors and made positive impacts, with Drury scoring on his own rebound, snapping a 2-2 tie at 18:40 of the first period.

Poturalski assisted on Niederreiter’s power-play goal.

"I don't think there was any letdown of them having a short roster," Larkin said. "If anything, it's the opposite. Your eyes light up and go and grind because they're going to be tired and we didn't capitalize on that opportunity.

"We gave it to them, gave them goals and easy looks and they capitalized. They get on the power play to start the game and that'll get them going. And from then on out, we gave it to them.

"It's a frustrating feeling."

The Wings fell to 4-10-1 on the road this season, and have lost three straight away from Little Caesars Arena. They’ve allowed 18 goals in those defeats.

"You can't give up that many goals and win consistently on the road," Blashill said. "We have to do a better job of that. We have to keep stepping up and playing better hockey."

Twitter: @tkulfan